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Saturday, September 12, 2009

Review: Angelique's Descent

Review: Angelique’s Descent

Author: Lara Parker
Mass Market Paperback: 256 pages
Publisher: Harper Entertainment (December 1998)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0061057517

Written by the actress who played the evil witch Angelique on the daytime soap-opera Dark Shadows, Angelique’s Descent tells the story of how the woman became the witch we loved to hate.

The story jumps intermittently between the present (1971) and the past, roughly 200 years prior as Barnabus Collins reads Angelique’s journal which he found at the ‘old house’ as it is often referred to in the series. The first half of the novel describes Angelique’s early childhood in late 18th century San Martinique. When we first meet the young Angelique, she is a child of the ocean spending her days swimming among the sea life and exploring caves near her mother’s island hut. We learn that her mother was a native-healer and her father, a white Englishman, the owner of a sugar plantation.

Angelique’s mother is tricked into sending her away to live with her father who promises a life of wealth and ease for Angelique. In truth, Angelique’s father suspects that she has inherited a portion of her mother’s powers and plans on using her as a pawn to keep his slaves in line by having Angelique impersonate the voodoo Goddess Erzulie. What Angelique’s father learns, albeit far too late, is that Angelique is far more powerful than he could have imagined. Along the way we learn of Angelique’s earliest meeting with a young Barnabus Collins and their eventual love affair before Angelique becomes a servant of the rich and powerful Du Pres family.

The latter half of the book will be familiar to anyone who watched the series as the author describes the events which played out on screen using dialogue from the original scripts. We are also treated to events that occurred ‘off-camera’ filling the blanks between scenes. Having escaped her past, Angelique becomes a maid to Josette Dupres to whom we learn she has a profound connection. Barnabus and Angelique are able to consummate their love-affair, however due to constraints of society at the time, they are unable to wed. Ultimately it is Josette to whom Barnabus becomes betrothed, inciting Angelique’s wrath. Angelique calls upon her sorcery in attempt to undo their love and reclaim Barnabus for herself, resulting in Barnabus becoming a Vampire.

The author’s style of writing is easy to follow. The story is well-thought out and faithful to the established characters and plot made famous in the television series. Although described as an erotic tale, I found the few scenes describing Angelique’s sexual liaisons quite tame.

My biggest complaint with the story is the lack of realism in Angelique’s flavor of witchcraft. In some instances she uses actual magical theories (such as sympathetic magic) while in other instances she chants gibberish which I take as lazy writing.

Parker did an excellent job of portraying Angelique a sympathetic villain. Having learned of the violence and betrayal of which Angelique was the victim one cannot help but empathize with her and understand why she did what she did….for love.

Carolina Dean

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